I was talking to one of my awesome clients the other day. He’s unhappy in his marriage. He’s considering leaving.
He’s in a lot of pain right now. He is suffering. He says things to me like, “If I do leave, I don’t want to hurt her, Liz. I feel like the worst human being in the world.”
I tell him that I don’t think he is the worse person in the world, far from it, but that I also understand why he feels that way. And I agree with him, that it’s very possible that there will be hurt. A lot of it—his actions and decisions will create pain. For her. And also for him. Maybe even other people. But that the huge responsibility weighing on his shoulders for the pain he may cause will be her pain—something that only she can take responsibiity for—because it belongs to her and his pain will belong to him.
He considers staying. To ease the pain. To not be the guy who left his wife, his marriage—there’s a lot of shame there. We go back and forth a lot in our sessions. I give him the time and space he needs to work through it all.
And yet I also remind him that there comes a time when we may have to pick our pain.
The pain of staying in a love-less marriage and pretending everything is a-ok….when it’s not. Or the pain of leaving—which will bring with it massive uncertainty and loss.
Right now, he cannot pick his pain. Both seem too heavy, too visceral, too unthinkable, too destructive.
And that’s ok. It is not my role to push him or orchestrate decisions on his behalf. It’s my role to sit with him—and his deep, deep pain—and ask the questions that will help him find his own answers.
Pain is part of life. I wish it wasn’t. But it is. I have experinced extreme pain and trauma in my life. Not just once. But many times over. And each time, I think, “This will be the last time. I’ve had my fair share now, right?” But of course, life doesn’t work like that.
There will always be emotional pain: in every decision, in every choice, in every experience.
And it’s our pain to pick. Whether it’s the life-changing, soul-shifting, big, deep pain that comes with death and divorce and redundancies and disasters. Or the quick, sharp, OW! pain that comes with daily life.
I choose the pain of exercising daily over the pain of not working out and feeling tired and mopey for the rest of the day.
I choose the pain of learning German—even though honestly? I don’t really enjoy it—over the pain of not being able to keep up with my incredible bilingual kid.
I once chose the pain of 70-hour weeks for years while I trained as a coach, worked full-time and started my own business from the ground up, over the pain of staying in the corporate world and spending the rest of my life counting down the years, months and days to my retirement.
I chose the pain of running ultra-marathons and other equally challenging stuff over the pain of sitting on my sofa and giving in to the belief that I cannot do hard things.
I choose the pain of being coached by these two brilliant women—who regularly challenge and encourage me to up my game (and call me out on my shit)—over the pain of numbing out and living my life at 50%.
I choose the pain of getting out of my own way and really living my life—with all the hard stuff and the discomfort and the shit mixed in with all the joy and fulfilment and fun—over switching off and sleep-walking on a treadmill that slowly and half-heartedly transports me through my days on this wild and wonderful planet.
How about you? Which pain are you picking?
Over and out.
p.s: The thoughtful, welcoming and hands-down brilliant people in my private Facebook group (which is my most favourite place on the Internet right now) are starting a 30-day challenge from today. 30 days of…..meditation, healthier eating, exercise, learning something new, de-cluttering, letting go….. Do you want to join in too? Head on over here, let’s do this!
p.p.s: I’ve got three client spaces available for one-to-one coaching in March. If you don’t know why you’re spinning your wheels at work, rolling your eyes at the whole wide world, or wanting to bang your head against the nearest wall—I can help you. (There’s a lot of big-hearted, no-nonsense guidance included. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Book yourself in for a free introductory call here via Skype. This session will give you a taste of what coaching is like with me and help us make sure we’re a good fit. Here, we can also discuss which coaching package and payment plan is best for you.
p.p.s: If you’re not actually interested in potentially working with me, and you just fancy a free coaching session, please, please, please don’t book a call with me, it’s bad juju and makes me stabby.